Sandwiched between stories about Hollywood eco-activists such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford, scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego were recognized as “Global Citizens” by the editors of Vanity Fair’s May 2007 “Green Issue.”
As Scripps’s green representatives, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC) Director Nancy Knowlton, Scripps Director Tony Haymet, and climate scientist Ralph Keeling were photographed together for a full-page magazine spread.
The three spent a February afternoon moving up and down the stretch of beach adjacent to the Scripps campus directed by Vanity Fair photographer Brigitte Lacombe and her crew of four.
While striking poses for the camera, Knowlton wore a full wetsuit and draped herself in a strand of kelp found on the sand. “I liked being given the opportunity to be creative in a completely non-scientific way,” says Knowlton. “The seaweed as a prop was my idea.”
Haymet waded in the ocean wearing a sport coat and green rubber goulashes. Before Scripps’s debut in the popular magazine, Haymet admits he was unaware of the profile of Vanity Fair. “I have since received numerous e-mails from people saying how pleased they are that Scripps was part of the green issue,” he says.
Keeling got his feet wet, literally, casually walking barefoot along the shoreline with his pants rolled up at the ankles.
Featured under the headline “The Minds Aquatic,” the image shows Knowlton, Haymet, and Keeling standing serenely at the Pacific Ocean’s edge with the cliffs of Torrey Pines visible in the distance. The image’s corresponding text argues that marine scientists, such as those at Scripps, possess the precious knowledge and expertise needed to shape the future of planet Earth, a message that Scripps hopes will resonate with Vanity Fair readers.
“It gave all of us a chance to communicate with the world outside of academia—that is most of the world,” says Knowlton. “At CMBC we are always teaching our students that this is important, and this photo shoot gave me an opportunity to practice what I preach. I loved the experience.”